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LSAT Prep

September 11th, 2012 No comments

Picture this.  A college student, lets name her Amy, dreams of becoming an attorney.  She did her research about admission to law school and bought a pile of books to prepare for the LSAT.  She took practice tests in her spare time at a secluded corner in the library to minimize distractions.  She read through each question carefully and took her time to consider each response.  After a few weeks of studying, she felt comfortable with the techniques and confident in her practice scores.

The day of the test, Amy can’t focus.  The student next to her is tapping his foot.  The proctor doesn’t notice the construction going on outside.  Time flies by as Amy tries to read through each questions and consider each option.  By the end of the test, Amy is exhausted and defeated.  She bombed.

What went wrong?  Here’s some tips:

  1.  Time yourself when you practice for the LSAT.  Get used to reading quickly and efficiently.  Take tests over and over again in the time allotted for the actual test.  Don’t slack on this!
  2. Take the test in a simulated testing environment before the actual administration.  Testing rooms, especially for the LSAT, can vary.  Although all environments are carefully monitored, things happen beyond our control.  There are many prep courses that offer practice tests.  Widener Law offers two Mock LSAT experiences in the Fall (Sept. 22 and Nov. 17).  They are offered at no cost and follow LSAC guidelines for administration (including the check in process!).  It’s better to be over prepared than not so take advantage of these opportunities!
  3. If there is a disturbance during the test (such as construction outside), bring it up to your proctor!  Follow up with LSAC to make sure they are also aware.  You always have the option to cancel your score if things go awry.

What other tips do you have?

For more information on Widener Law’s Mock LSAT visit:  bit.ly/mmThVA

For more practice tests visit: bit.ly/SAVas9 or lsac.org

Email me with questions!  asdelpuerto@widener.edu.

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What to do when you don’t get in.

May 15th, 2012 No comments

Law school admission is a tough battle.  For some, classes and tests come easy and law schools welcome students with these natural academic skills.  Others work hard to reach their dreams and simply need the opportunity to show their work ethic in a legal setting.  For these aspiring lawyers, getting into law school can be a greater challenge.  If your GPA is less than stellar and your standardized test taking skills need some work, then consider these steps to improve your chances:

  • Prepare for the LSAT.  Take as many practice tests as you can and time yourself in the process!  I frequently meet applicants who study for the LSAT but never timed themselves.  Guess what?  They felt rushed and pressured when they actually took the test.  Don’t be one of these applicants; take a prep class if you feel it’s appropriate.  In addition, search online, contact your pre-law advisor or career development center or ask local colleges if they offer weekend prep courses.  Yes, they are expensive but so is law school.  In the end you might save more money with a scholarship if you score well on the LSAT.  Widener Law offer mock LSAT administration every year.  We invite prospective students to take the LSAT under simulated testing center standards.  This is free and typically offered one week before the actual test.

 

  • Ignore the naysayers.  There’s a lot of gripe about law school out there.  First, yes, it is important to know that you definitely want to pursue law as a career.  Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into (this is a topic for another blog).  If you know it, you can do it.  I believe there is a right law school for almost everyone.  Do your research and find out when law schools begin accepting applications.  Widener Law has a fairly open application season.  We begin accepting application in late August and continue accepting applications through May 15.  However, we continue accepting applications through the summer if space is available.  So if you didn’t get in early, try for different options.  Sometimes schools you never considered are a diamond in the rough, check out JD programs for what they offer rather than just what you heard.

 

  • Contact the Admissions office to ask about your file.  If you were not successful this time around, we can help improve your chances next time around.  Remember that the LSAT and GPA are important criteria for admission.  The Admissions Committee generally looks for applicants close to the incoming class median.  Widener Law’s medians are typically around a 151 LSAT and above a 3.0 GPA.  However, every applicant is review holistically and your personal statement, letters of recommendation, work experience and additional accolades can sway the committee’s decision.

Still not sure where to go from here?  I’d be happy to help, feel free to email me at asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu.

How to Write a Personal Statement If You’re Just the “Average Joe”

September 28th, 2011 No comments

So you have no idea what to write and you don’t think you’re special.  What should you do?

  • Think positive.  You’re not that average, you’re applying to law school.  Not everyone has that privilege.  In fact, only around 10% of the U.S. population earns a professional degree.  That in itself is remarkable!   So how did you get into this elite group?  You might be judging yourself more harshly than you realize.  Although cliché, everyone really does have a different perspective to offer in a classroom discussion.  In the U.S., it seems ordinary for some to go to college and graduate school.  But this is certainly not true.  Even if you had support along the way, you didn’t just sleep your way through high school and college (hopefully).  Take the typical and turn it around.
  • Take the pressure off and just write whatever comes to mind.   Once you have exhausted your thoughts and then review your brainstorming session.  Collect what’s relevant and form it into a paper.  You know how to do this because you’ve been trained to write since childhood.  But if you’re struggling organizing your thoughts, then visit the writing center at your college or alma mater.
  • DO NOT start with “although I’m not traditionally diverse . . .” Widener Law’s Admissions Committee seeks diversity in many ways, some you may not even consider in yourself – reflect.  What have you done that your friends or family have not?  How have you been praised?  What’s your favorite hobby?  Where have you traveled?  Who raised you?  Anything that has led you to the point of considering law school is significant.  You have a story to tell, no matter what your background.
  • The personal statement is important but it certainly does not make or break your application.  Make sure it is well written, grammatically correct, and purposeful.  Keep in mind, however, that Admissions uses your scores (LSAT and undergraduate GPA) as the objective indicator of success in the first year of law school.  Spend time on every component of your application, all of it is important, but if you have to choose between mulling over a sentence in your personal statement or mastering an LSAT question – go with the LSAT.

Finally, watch Dodgeball for some inspiration (and probably a much needed break).  The Average Joes come out on top!

Questions about applying to law school?  Email me – asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu or visit law.widener.edu/admissions

Application Deadline May 15

May 9th, 2011 No comments

It’s been a while!  The Admissions office is busy preparing for the new class and continuing to read files.  Remember our deadline to apply is May 15!  Take advantage of our free application through our website to be considered for Fall 2011.  We will accept a June LSAT score, visit LSAC.org for registration information.

Lately, I’ve received many questions from applicants who were not offered a seat this year.  First, remember that you can achieve your goals with dedication and persistence.  Work hard for what you seek.  Secondly, the Committee carefully reviews every application in its entirety.  However, your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA are significant when making a decision.  They are an objective way for the Committee to gauge your skill level.  Although these scores are not directly pertaining to law, they do indicate your level of reasoning and scholarly potential.  If your scores do not approach our medians, admission will be more challenging.  A strong personal statement, persuasive letters of recommendation and supporting materials can help offset lower scores.  Additionally, if you have any weaknesses in your file then address them in an addendum, or separate statement.  You may email any supporting documents to lawadmissions@widener.edu to add to your file.

As another application season winds down, we will continue to offer events and guidance for the entering class.  I welcome any questions or comments, please email me at asdelpuerto@widener.edu.

Update on LSAT Check In Process

April 1st, 2011 No comments

The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) recently changed their check in procedures. Test takers are now required to bring a photo.

“All candidates must attach to their ticket a recent photograph (taken within the last six months) showing only the face and shoulders. The photograph must be clear enough so there is no doubt about the test taker’s identity, and must be no larger than 2 x 2 inches (5 x 5 cm) and no smaller than 1 x 1 inch (3 x 3 cm). Your face in the photo must show you as you look on the day of the test (for example, with or without a beard).” – lsac.org

Stand Out From the Crowd

February 22nd, 2011 2 comments

It’s the height of application season and making your application stand out can be challenging.  Here are a few points to consider:

What were your accomplishments?

You want to highlight your strengths in your personal statement. Try not to summarize your resume or extracurricular activities.  What makes you different and extraordinary?  What is most meaningful in your life?  How does this relate to law school?  Discuss any weaknesses or standardized scores in a separate statement, NOT in the personal statement.

Who knows you well academically and/or professionally?

Does this person write well?  Can he or she provide specific examples of your outstanding abilities?  Never rely on a well known name or persona for a good recommendation.  A mentor or coworker might provide more detail than a Senator.

Did you get to the point?

Review all of your documents; remember that Admissions Committees are reviewing hundreds of applications a week.  Be concise, be precise, be coherent.  Can you easily skim your statements?  How long do they take to read?  Always ask others to edit your documents and ask for a general overview.  How do others describe your statement in a word or sentence?  Were there any sentences they had to review for clarity?

Although scores are a vital factor to your application, asking yourself these questions can give you an edge.

Also, remember that Widener Law’s admissions process is paperless.  Please apply through lsac.org or law.widener.edu and we will request your LSAC CAS report upon receiving your application.  Every applicant must register through our website portal, law.widener.edu/admissions, to receive a decision.

As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns, asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu.  Good luck!

Grappling With Your LSAT Score

January 10th, 2011 No comments

December LSAT results were released recently, how did you score?  I received several calls from applicants disappointed with their scores.  Hopefully, you conquered each question but here are some suggestions for those who fell short:

  1. A low LSAT score is not the end of the world. Passion, drive and dedication can get you places – so think positive.
  2. Reflect on your preparation. Did you take the time to adequately prepare for the LSAT?  We advise preparing at least 3 months in advance and timing yourself once you start taking full prep tests. If you prepared solo, would a class help?  If you took a class, was your teacher effective?  Maybe a tutor would give the personal attention you need?
  3. Reflect on your health. How did you feel mentally and physically during the test?  Were you blanking out?  Anxious?  Consider seeking a counselor that can develop skills to counteract test anxiety.  It is completely natural to feel pressured with this test, it means a lot to your future.  But if your anxiety is overwhelming and affecting your score then it’s time to take action, find someone who can give you coping mechanisms.  Illness, not getting enough sleep, hunger, headaches and lack of concentration can all affect your score – keep healthy.
  4. What’s your next step? You can apply with your current score or retake the test.  Keeping your score can be an option if it lies close to the median for the entering class.  Academic records, personal statements and letters of recommendation can influence the Admissions Committee’s decision, so beef those up!  Some schools, like Widener, also offer trial admission programs for applicants with slightly lower scores but otherwise excellent applications.  If you feel that your score could increase, then retaking is a good option.  Consider your timing, the LSAT is only offered four times per year so you may need to wait another year to start law school.  Also consider your likelihood of increasing your score.  If you felt healthy, confident and thoroughly prepared then scores rarely increase more than a point or so (although there are always exceptions).

I hope this offers some advice to those of you grappling with a tough decision.  If you’re still unsure, feel free to email me at asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu with questions.

And happy 2011!

How to Prepare for the LSAT

September 27th, 2010 2 comments

As we approach the October LSAT, many prospective students anxiously trudge through prep work to achieve the best score possible.  Here are some tips for you brave souls:

  • Familiarize yourself with the questions.  Nothing is better than walking into the testing center knowing what to expect.
  • Know how you study best.  If you do best studying alone, then do not force yourself into a prep course.  If you need more structure, then a weekend or semester course might be a good option.   If it’s not broken, don’t change it!
  • Take your time on the analytical (logic games) section but allocate it appropriately!  Know where you can cut some corners and where you can’t.  This is best gauged through practice, time yourself once you start taking full practice tests.
  • Take as many practice tests as you can – Widener Law offers free simulated testing four times this year.  Visit http://law.widener.edu/Spiffs/WidenerLawHighlightsII/LSATPracticeExams.aspx for more information.

There are many options out there, do your research.  Along with the test prep companies, some local colleges offer weekend courses or provide personal tutors.  Although prep can be an expensive endeavor, remember that it holds significant weight in the Admissions process.  A high score can even place you in consideration for merit scholarships – is a $1,000 course worth a full scholarship to law school?  That’s a rhetorical question.

For those of you retaking the LSAT, each law school has its own standards for considering multiple scores.  Widener Law considers all LSAT scores, along with the average, but places greater emphasis on the high score.

As always, please feel free to email asdelpuerto@mail.widener.edu if you have any questions.  Happy testing!

New Year, New Applicants!

August 24th, 2010 No comments

Classes are in session and our new class is officially inaugurated.  We wish our incoming and current students the best of luck!  A brand new year brings a brand new admission season.

This year, we transitioned into a paperless format.  That means that you can apply online for free beginning in September.  Our portal is comprehensive and walks you through each step of the admission process.  We will also be traveling the country answering your questions and offering advice.  Check out the events calendar to see if we will be near you!

Additionally, I came across some excellent articles starting on page 32 of the latest PreLaw Magazine issue.  The articles “Law School Admission Secrets”, “6 Big Mistakes” and “4 Common Admissions Myths” all offer the same advice I give applicants.  These are broad comments that apply to most schools so take advantage of the quotes from the experts!

As always please do not hesitate to contact me as you tackle law school admissions!

How Personal is a Personal Statement?

May 17th, 2010 1 comment

In order to better advise you, I frequently research Admissions standards for not just law schools but a variety of graduate departments. The Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society offers invaluable advice on personal statements, they really delve into the details of a good essay. For law school applicants, I think the following paragraph nicely summarizes what Widener Law seeks:

“Do not misinterpret the meaning of personal in the phrase personal statement! This statement is not a place for you to espouse your personal philosophy of life, to describe in detail your first romance, or to tell the story of the time you were bitten by the neighbor’s dog and subsequently developed an anxiety disorder. Instead, think of the statement as a professional statement. Write about the activities and experiences that led you to apply to graduate school and that have prepared you for its rigors. Provide concrete, detailed examples of your experiences and abilities when possible (see below for more information about content). Above all, write in a professional tone that conveys your self-confidence: You need to showcase your abilities and convince the reader that you are smart and driven to succeed. The personal statement is a chance to sell yourself–now is not the time to be overly humble, hiding your assets. Of course, you should not misrepresent yourself, and you should avoid sounding pompous.” – Quoted from http://www.kon.org/bottoms_nysse.html.

Although this page pertains to graduate psychology programs, you might find some information transferrable to a law school application.  These tips could be invaluable if you are considering our JD/PsyD program!